So, who’s going to cough for this?

October 12th 2017

On 25th September 2017 Gwen Richards found this object on the top of a hill not far from her home at Torbreck (NC0823). First question – is it a pellet or a scat, the first from the front end of a bird, the second from the back end of a mammal? Answer – a fresh pellet, which given its size (about 5cm) and texture is almost certainly from the only bird she has ever seen perched there, a hooded crow (Corvus cornix).

Second question – what has it been eating? The obvious components are the skins of rowan berries, which are ripe at the moment. Fortunately she had collected it for further study, since amongst these skins were dark bluish-black fragments of some large beetles, which she passed on to Ian, to compare with his reference collection.

The most readily identifiable shards were the shoulders of the left wing-cases of two members of the genus Carabus, which includes our largest ground beetles. That on the right is dark, with numerous, fairly even, rows of small bumps or granulations, and is from Carabus problematicus, one of three species that occur frequently in moorland habitats hereabouts. That on the left is bronzy, with a much bolder pattern of three keels, separating single rows of large pits. This is from Carabus clatratus, the largest species of all, up to 30mm long overall, which is found on bogs and wet moorland and at the edges of lochs and burns. It is restricted to Ireland and the north-west of Scotland, and local records are few.

An interesting window on the seasonal diet of this opportunistic omnivore.

 Gwen Richards and Ian M. Evans

 

Report a Sighting

Recent Sightings

Harbour Porpoise

three off Split Rock, Clachtoll (Paul Burnett) (20/08)

Common Dolphin

15+ north-west of Split Rock, Clachtoll (Paul Burnett) (20/08)

Goldfinch

22 Culkein Stoer and 14 Culkein Drumbeg (DAH) (18/08)

Waders on Migration

Dunlin 7; Sanderling 1; Ringed Plover 42; Redshank (juveniles) 2; Oystercatcher 49; Turnstone 3; Curlew 8 and Whimbrel 1, all Bay of Culkein/Culkein Stoer (DAH) (18/08)

Merlin

single bird near Clashnessie (DAH) (18/08)

Goldeneye

single female Loch Drumbeg (DAH) (11/08)

White-tailed Eagle

immature bird off Kirkaig Point (Adrian Stabler) (08/08)

Larch Ladybird (Aphidecta obliterata)

single beetle foraging, Culkein Stoer (DAH). This appears to be only the third record of this species for Assynt, the last being in 2008 near Inchnadamph. It is probably very under recorded. Photos Gallery - Beetles (08/08)

Map